Thursday 19 August 2010

Scratching An Itch

Nope. Still can't find the study. But then I had a great idea ... why mess around when one can go straight to the man himself?

Subject: Healthy Nudges
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:47:28 +0000

FAO: Alan Maryon-Davies (or properly authorised flunky)

Dear Sir

I hope you don't mind my contacting you, it's just that there has been something vexing me. It's like an itch one can't quite scratch and, as a doctor, I'm sure you can appreciate how irritating that can be - you've probably got some medical term for it even. Justoutofreach-itis or something, I dunno. Still, you get the idea.

You see, yesterday I read your report entitled "Healthy Nudges: When the Public Wants Change and the Politicians Don't Know It". Not a very snappy title I thought, by the way, maybe something less wordy may have been better? "Public Nudge the Politicians", perhaps? "Nudge for the Public Multiball"? Or maybe, "A Finger of Nudge is Just Enough to Give the Kids a Treat". Oh, sorry, I digress and you're obviously a busy man as I've heard you on the radio.

OK, I'll get to the point.

Right. My little bugbear is that page 10 of your report stated this:

"In a closed car, levels of second-hand smoke can be extremely high – the concentration in cars can be up to 60 times higher than in a smoke-free home, and up to 27 times greater than in a smoker’s home."

The problem being that, despite the fact that every other assertion in your report is referenced (those little numbers are so cute, I think, don't you?), this one isn't. You can't leave us hanging like that dude. It's like going to see The Mousetrap (is that still going?) and being kicked out before finding out whodunnit. It's incomplete information.

And that's really annoying as I'm a bit of a facts and figures freak if truth be known (especially if there are pretty graphs as well), but, shhh, don't tell the wife, she gets embarrassed when I trot out stats at parties so I've had to cut down.

Anyhoo, I'd much appreciate it if you could give me a source for this interesting factoid to fully complete the wonderful experience of reading your excellent work.

I look forward to your reply.

Best regards
Richard Puddlecote

PS If you ever need help with future titling, I'd be willing to help. I think the examples above show that I'm up to the job.

PPS Ever thought about presenting your next report in Comic Sans? It would go down a storm at Westminster, I reckon.
You never know, someone whose wages we pay may even reply.


Dick Puddlecote said...

Wasp: Can you post the links again, had trouble with a spammer and even turned full modding on for a while!

"After a little searching I have found this factsheet (pdf) from the California Environmental Protection Agency which is referenced as the source for the 23 times claim by ASH in this document (pdf). The California EPA factsheet is itself a summary of this monster study (pdf) published by the CEPA. It runs to 250 pages and some of the studies discussed have some dubious methods which is hardly surprising I suppose given the subject matter.

One interesting study relating to children exposed to smoking inside cars gives the following methodology in determining the smoke exposure of the child : The average
RSP concentration in a vehicle during smoking was 92 μg/m3 with windows open
and ventilation off (Offermann et al., 2002). In the same study, the average RSP
concentration in a vehicle during smoking was 693 μg/m3 with windows closed
and ventilation on. The average of these two values is 392.5 μg/m3 of RSP. RSP there being respiratory suspended particles.

What I find somewhat surprising is the use of a convenient average figure for particulates which is 4 times the level found when the window is open, which I would suggest is how most people smoke in a car.

Hope that sheds a little light on the mysterious number 23."

Anonymous said...

Talking about "enclosed areas" and
smoking bans

"SMOKING could be banned in every public park and sports ground in the Tonbridge area.
The Kent Alliance on Smoking and Health wants councils across Kent to stop people from lighting up at venues which are aimed at children and families.
It means people found smoking at Tonbridge Farm, Tonbridge Racecourse and the neighbouring Haysden Country Park could face on-the-spot fines, and court, for flouting the rules.
The document was backed by Kent County Council this week and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council said it was "carefully considering" the Kent Tobacco Control Strategy – which aims to have a smoke-free county by 2014"
Not much hope for car drivers then.

Seems the zealots are on a roller

Free Corps

Anonymous said...

Hmm... maybe Alan should try the exhaust pipe experiment.
Put it through the window of the car while seated inside.
No please do not try that one at home as you would be unconscious within 5 minutes if you were lucky.
Dead if you were not.

Now who was that chap sacked from UCLA recently for pointing to toxins in air pollution.
You see he was supposed to point to tobacco instead.
No grants in air polution ,plenty of grants in anti smoking.

Just a thought.

Christopher Snowdon said...


You're very, very close.

The Wasp said...

Forgive the lack of link formatting but I have to get up at 04:00 and should be in bed already :)

ASH document mentioning the magical numbers :

California EPA factsheet referenced by ASH as the source of the magical numbers :

California EPA full study behind the factsheet with dubious scientific method :

Anonymous said...

"In a closed car, levels of second-hand smoke can be extremely high – the concentration in cars can be up to 60 times higher than in a smoke-free home, and up to 27 times greater than in a smoker’s home."

This appears to be ordure of the highest odour.
In a smoke-free home surely there must be no second hand smoke ?
60 times zero is ?

Anonymous said...


Even in a smoke free home, presumably they still cook.

Solanesol: A Tracer for Environmental Tobacco Smoke -1988

"Solanesol, a compound - expected to be unique - to environmental tobacco smoke is easily detected in air even at low concentrations of environmental tobacco smoke"

"Many plants of the Solanaceae family, which includes the genus Nicotiana, of which the tobacco
plant is a member, contain solanesol; particularly those that contain trace amounts of nicotine.
These include the tomato, eggplant, potato, and pepper.

The potential interference due to these sources is negligible, cooking being the only likely potential source of interference. An interference of this type would bias results high, overestimating the contribution of ETS to RSP.


Anonymous said...

Because they don't seem to have ever bothered to research the plant, they appear to only find out their mistake in the early 90's when it was pointed out to them.

Which they subsequently used to their advantage.

Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke Widespread
Nearly 9 out of 10 non-smoking Americans are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS, or second-hand smoke), as measured by the levels of cotinine in their blood, according to a study conducted by HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Causing a further problem.

"Many commonly and widely consumed vegetables of the nightshade family (Solanaceae)
such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and capsicums naturally contain low levels of nicotine.
Nicotine has also been detected in cauliflower and tea – two non-solanaceous plants.
Recently there have been a number of attempts overseas to deliver nicotine medications presented as food, such as in bottled water or in lollipops.

A concern expressed by health authorities is that the addition of tobacco or nicotine in food may promote or legitimise the smoking of tobacco or the use of smokeless tobacco products.
VicHealth proposed a modified Option 2 – Allow the use of Nicotiana species in all foods but restrict the level of nicotine to the level demonstrated to be safe and not to be therapeutic or psychoactive." ?

"The option was raised to prevent foods such as the nightshades, known to naturally contain low levels of nicotine, from being banned.


Bucko said...

Heres one for the hate mongering anti smoker archive:

""Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Letters to Hoo *UPDATED*":

So you are a faceist wanker then, if I come across you at some point you wont object if I torch your car with you in it for messing up my atmosphere.
Hey we can all play your game. ""


Anonymous said...

Did you copy your MP and the Health Secretary Dick?

It is about time our politicians understood that arrogant, evil totalitarian bigots do not represent the public whatever their biased little surveys suggest.

The bloated UK public health industry and the associated leaches from both fake and real charities need to be exposed for the corrupt self-serving amateurs that they are.

Bucko said...

DP. Please ignore that last. Apparently he though I was Ciggy Busters. He has appologised.

PS. Your watchword is nesse. Reminded me of this:

Just saying...